The Order of Things

All living things are given a scientific classification, depending on their own individual characteristics. This is the science of Taxonomy and it is a long and complicated process that is best left to the experts to explain in detail. It involves the highly detailed study of an individual organism, looking for characteristics that may bear a relationship to other organisms, determining where it appears to fit into the big scheme of things and eventually coming up with an acceptable name. That is an extremely simplified explanation to say the least.

Most people, if they don’t use the common name, only use the genus and species name. The species name is like our given name and several species can fall into the same genus. To put it another way, my species name is Nick and I belong to the genus Monaghan. In scientific terms, my name would be Monaghan nick (usually always displayed in italics, a capital letter to begin the genus, no capitals in the species name). A group of genera (plural of genus) make up a tribe, a group of tribes make up a subfamily, and so it goes on until you end up with the following order, from bottom to top:

species – genus – tribe – subfamily – family – superfamily – micropicoorder – hyperpicoorder – megapicoorder – gigapicoorder – microorder – infraorder – suborder – order – class – phylum – kingdom

There is no way on earth I am going to get involved in all of that. so I will just try to stick to the basics – species, genus, family, occasionally tribe and subfamily, and order. I’m not getting paid to do this, so I don’t need to get too carried away.

Green Potato Bug – Cuspicona simplex – family Pentatomidae, subfamily Pentatominae, tribe Rhynchocorini

There are approximately 86,000 named species of insects in Australia alone, and those yet to be found or described may be at least that number again. It is estimated that there may be more than 10,000 Australian spider species, but only about 2,500 of them have been named. That said, it is possible that I haven’t been able to identify some of the creatures in my photos because they don’t actually have a formal name yet.

When I first took up this hobby, I was very naive and a little confused. Now, after several years of personal study, I am a little naive and very confused. What have I got myself into?! If there is one positive to be gained, it is that I am always learning something new.